Howl by Allen Ginsberg (1956). The title poem is considered the signature poem of the Beat generation. In language that blesses, curses, sorrows, and comforts, Ginsberg laments “the best minds of my generation . . . destroyed by madness.” Begun in isolation and anger, the poem reaches a kind of saintliness and communion. What can be seen as a manifesto against the conformist society of America in the 1950s can also be read as a love poem for the promising idea of America.
Total Points: 9 (SA 9)